Drivers in Texas may be unaware that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 2.5 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents are the result of drowsy drivers. An additional 2 percent of accidents in which people are injured are attributed to driving while fatigued. However, these numbers may be low because it can be difficult to determine whether or not a driver is drowsy.
Physiologically, driving while drowsy can mimic driving drunk. After 18 hours awake, a person behaves similarly to an individual with a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. After 24 hours, the amount is .10 percent, and this is above the legal limit for driving under the influence. Fatigue can also exacerbate the effects of alcohol.
Shift workers and commercial drivers are among the people most likely to drive while drowsy. Drivers with sleep disorders and those who have taken any kind of sedating medication may also drive while fatigued. One survey found that more than 4 percent of drivers reported driving while drowsy in the previous 30 days. Even if a driver does not fall asleep at the wheel, driving drowsy can be dangerous because it affects a driver's ability to react and make decisions.
A motorist or passenger may be seriously injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver. In such a case, the victim may face high medical bills and be unable to return to work during a prolonged recovery period. Those who are in this situation may wish to speak with an attorney to see if there is a basis for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. An examination of the accident investigation report and other evidence might allow the attorney to make a determination that the driver's actions constituted negligence.